It was the perfect summer day for a celebration of Metis culture, which was held Aug. 6th at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery.
Folks turned out for some tasty bannock, family crafts, tours of the Museum’s current exhibit The Writing on the Wall: Works of Dr. Joane Cardinal Schubert, lively fiddling tunes by Brianna Lizotte and her father Brian Lizotte and a jigging lesson with Carmen Houle.
“Today is the Museum’s Welcome to Red Deer event which is a celebration of Metis culture,” said Kim Verrier, coordinator of visitor experience at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery.
“We actually started these events about two years ago,” she said, adding that the inspiration for the annual celebration was sparked when a special exhibition arrived at the Museum.
“It was called Canada Day One, which told the stories and experiences of people’s first days in Canada,” she explained. “When we were planning that event, the Canadian government was also announcing the number of Syrian refugees that they would be accepting into Canada at that time. So with the impetus of that exhibition, and deciding that we wanted to do a welcoming and inclusive event for the City, we started this Welcome to Red Deer (annual) event,” she said.
The first two years adopted primarily a western theme.
“This year, we chose Metis as the culture that we were going to celebrate. In part we did that because we have an exhibition coming up in December called Hidden in Plain Sight. We really wanted to celebrate today the modern, vibrant culture that it is through some traditional music and some modern styles as well.”
Raye St. Denys, president of Metis Local 492, said the welcome that the Metis Association received from the MAG to showcase Metis culture was exceptional.
“We’ve been here a long, long time, and the acknowledgement of that is good,” she said. “A lot of people have, for many, many years, forgotten about Metis people,” she added.
“Metis people have, historically, been the forgotten people, the invisible people. We are not that – and we aren’t going to be forgotten anymore.”